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No matter how good your guitar, singing or DJ skills are, none of it matters without great sound equipment. That’s where the best high-quality powered cabinet speakers come in.
Sound equipment is an intimidating world in a class of its own; hence the label “audiophile” for sound geeks. But if you don’t want to spend hours learning everything there is to know about sound equipment, consider powered cabinet speakers, which can be an effective all-in-one sound system for your live performances, karaoke nights or DJ sets.
The best powered cabinet speakers, also known as active speakers or powered PA speakers, are speakers with a built-in amplifier. This is opposed to passive speakers, which require connection to an external amplifier. With powered speakers, everything is contained within one cabinet, offering a few attractive benefits for experienced audiophiles and new musicians alike.
Firstly, the amplifier, speakers and woofer within a powered speaker are already well-matched by the manufacturer, saving you the risk of buying an amp that doesn’t sound good with your speakers. Secondly, powered speakers are far more convenient. You can quickly set them up, and with plenty of modern connectivity options (i.e. Bluetooth), there’s no need to fiddle with cables when getting prepared for a concert or party.
What to Know Before Buying a Powered Cabinet Speaker
Input: The best powered PA speakers have a variety of sound connectivity options. Many do it the old-fashioned way with cable inputs, but some more advanced models also have Bluetooth connectivity for streaming from your phone or laptop. But if you’re just planning on using these speakers for instruments, Bluetooth isn’t necessary.
Sound Quality: When figuring out which speaker rocks the hardest, there are two important specs to check out: wattage and SPL (Sound Pressure Level). Wattage is how much power the speaker uses, but SPL is more crucial. SPL dictates the actual noise level a speaker can generate (measured in dB). So if you need something seriously roof-raising, buy a speaker with the highest SPL rating.
Woofer: All of our powered speaker picks have either a 10, 12 or 15-inch woofer. In general, the bigger the better for low frequencies. Frequency response and range (measured in Hz) is another spec worth checking out for bass heads. This indicates the range of audible frequencies that a speaker can produce. Most go up to 20kHz (the highest frequency humans can hear) and as low as around 40 to 60Hz. The lower the better, as you’ll hear more bass notes.
Size & Weight: If you’re dragging your speaker from venue to venue, you’ll want something lightweight and small for easy transportation.
Mounting: The speakers we’ve selected all have different means of mounting and setup. Some can be rigged to hang from the ceiling, others can be mounted on poles and so on.
1. Yamaha DXR 10-Inch Powered Speaker Cabinet
Yamaha has been a leading source for reliable instruments and music equipment since they were founded way back in 1887. They’re still a behemoth in the music industry because they make high-quality products such as this DXR powered speaker.
The DXR is Yamaha’s mid-level powered speaker with more than enough muscle to rock any wedding, small concert or large party. The speaker’s specifications are pretty impressive with 1100 watts of power and an SPL of 131dB. And trust us: these speakers can actually handle sound at very high volumes.
You also get some professional features that put the DXR in a class above our other options. It has three individual inputs for multiple performers. Plus, it has plenty of rigging options for mounting on poles, socket rigging and a place for optional U-brackets.
PROS: Very powerful, crisp sound, lots of mounting options.
CONS: Slightly heavy.
2. Yamaha DBR 12-Inch Powered Speaker Cabinet
Another great option from Yamaha is the DBR series. It’s Yamaha’s entry-level model, so it’s slightly less professional than the DXR but still a fantastic option for smaller venues and parties.
Like the DXR, the DBR 12 comes with impressive specs: 1000 watts of power and a 131db SPL. In other words, this speaker can get loud.
The DBR is also great for anyone transporting their speaker from home to the studio or venue. It’s fairly lightweight, features carrying handles and can be rigged however you need.
PROS: Powerful, plenty of mounting options.
CONS: Not as crisp at high volumes.
3. Acoustic Audio by Goldwood Powered Speaker Cabinet
If you’re looking for something a little less professional and a lot more fun, check out this powered speaker from Acoustic Audio. It’s decked out for karaoke or small parties with a portable 20-pound design, wheels and a roller handle – not to mention a festive LED woofer.
Acoustic Audio’s speaker comes prepared for easy use, even if you’re completely new to audio gear. Most importantly it has Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to play music through your smartphone or laptop without any cables. It also comes with a karaoke microphone and remote control.
This speaker is geared more toward solo use than our other picks. The built-in 15-inch woofer delivers high-quality bass with a frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz. This means bass notes will come through loud and clear. However, overall power is slightly lower with a 97dB max SPL and 600 watts of power.
PROS: Bluetooth input, great bass, remote-controlled.
CONS: Less power than others.
4. JBL Professional EON612 Self-Powered Speaker
JBL has become more well-known by casual audiophiles recently thanks to their incredible mini Bluetooth speakers, but they’re still a great source for professional audio equipment too. Case-in-point: this rugged, powered speaker.
The speaker comes prepared for DJing, guitar or parties ,with a capable 12-inch woofer, a room-filling SPL of 126dB and portability features. This speaker can also connect to JBL’s handy app via Bluetooth. This app lets you fully customize sound from anywhere in the room, making it great for parties.
JBL rates the EON612 at 1000 watts of power, which is impressive. However, that’s peak wattage. Continuous power is actually 500 watts, which is where you’ll find the most consistent sound.
PROS: Bluetooth control, portable, powerful.
CONS: Trouble withstanding high volumes. The speaker does not have Bluetooth input (so you can’t stream music from your phone), just Bluetooth sound adjustment.